UFC: The 10 Most Devastating KOs in Promotion History
Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
The World English Dictionary defines “devastating” as “extremely effective in a destructive way."
“Effective” and “destructive” are two buzzwords that always get thrown around in MMA. With that in mind, what are the most effective, destructive finishes we have seen in the UFC?
After hours pouring over old footage and scratching fight after fight, here is the list of the 10 most devastating knockouts in UFC history. With hundreds of punches and kicks and knees that have left fighters holding their head, what knockouts make the cut? Find out here!
December 7, 1996: Tank Abbott Deconstructs Steve Nelmark
The sight of Nelmark in a twisted heap made this one of the scariest moments in the early days of the UFC. Photo c/o MMAPlayground.com
You know those little wooden figurines? The ones that are built on top of a little platform thing with a button at the bottom? And if you press the button, they collapse in a heap?
Steve Nelmark is apparently one of those, and Tank Abbott found his button.
Abbott, who is pretty much the best example of who the UFC had fighting for them before the Zuffa buyout, was chasing Nelmark around the cage for the first minute of their bout. They clinched every time Abbott could catch up to Nelmark's backpedaling and, eventually, Abbott landed a punch that made his opponent go limp. Totally limp.
Nelmark fell to pieces, his limbs twisted in all directions. Abbott was immediately pulled off Nelmark, but the lasting image you see right there makes this one of the most memorable knockouts in UFC history.
June 6, 2003: Vitor Belfort Scalps Marvin Eastman
Vitor Belfort delivered just two knees, but opened up Marvin Eastman thusly. Photo c/o MMAPlayground.com.
This is what Joe Rogan's infamous “goat's vagina” line was describing. Vitor Belfort is an old-school favorite, and this is one of his most famous, scariest knockouts.
Belfort's heavy, absurdly quick hands were already famous at this point. Marvin Eastman knew this and hoped to take the fight to the ground with little success. He half-heartedly shot for a double-leg takedown after a Belfort leg kick.
Eastman did not follow through. Belfort slapped on a Muay Thai clinch and delivered two quick, powerful knees that sent Eastman to the ground, and delivered a flurry of punches that made the ref call it a fight.
Eastman had doctors all over him and when he shoved them away (literally), he revealed one of the biggest cuts ever seen in MMA history. It was a rough night for Eastman and one of the bloodiest knockouts ever.
October 14, 2006: Anderson Silva Rearranges Rich Franklin's Face
Ignore how the UFC doesn't have anyone proofreading the titles to the videos they post. Enjoy the fight.
Rich Franklin is a very, very good fighter. In fact, he's really an all-time great. Anderson Silva, though, made him look like a complete amateur and gave him a beating unlike any other seen so far in the UFC.
For a minute or two, it seemed like the fight was going to be a tight, technical kickboxing match. Then Anderson Silva got his hands behind Franklin's head, and that was the beginning of the end.
From the Muay Thai clinch, Silva yanked Franklin around and landed knee after knee after knee to the midsection. Eventually, Franklin started to lower his hands. As soon he had the chance, Silva put a knee squarely to Franklin's chin. From there, it was obvious things would only get worse.
Silva continued to stalk his prey, and landed knees, kicks and punches until Franklin fell, leaving the now-former champion with cuts, a broken nose and a thoroughly tenderized torso.
This is where the Anderson Silva Era officially began and is literally one of the most devastating KOs in UFC history.
April 21, 2007: Gabriel Gonzaga Gives Mirko Cro Cop a Taste of His Own Medicine
The whole world was shocked by this headkick from Gabriel Gonzaga.
Gary M. Prior/Getty Images
If this was a list of the most devastating KOs in MMA history, Mr. Filipovic would be having a great time. Unfortunately, we're only talking about the UFC, so he gets the short end of the stick, and the long end of Gabriel Gonzaga's leg on this one.
Fans who watched this probably remember every second. Cro Cop was the most fearsome striker around. Gabriel Gonzaga, meanwhile, was a top-tier, world-class grappler. Gonzaga missed this memo, though, and landed a flush headkick to Cro Cop that rendered him unconscious, and twisted his leg as he fell.
This is one of the all-time most shocking moments in MMA history and is one of the craziest knockouts ever. Truly, it is hard to describe how surreal it was to see Mirko Cro Cop bested at his own game, falling to the mat from a head kick.
December 27, 2008: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson Destroys Wanderlei Silva
In this picture, you can see Wanderlei Silva's skull being separated from the rest of his body. Photo c/o MMAWeekly.com.
Imagine punching something as hard as you can. Really, really hard. Just a right hook, straight into a target. That is what it was like when Quinton Jackson knocked out Wanderlei Silva at UFC 92.
Silva and Jackson paired off twice in Pride, with Silva knocking out Jackson either time. The pre-fight hype was intense, with plenty of smack-talk, loads of clips from their first two fights and Silva giving Jackson a hard shove at the weigh-ins. Jackson was determined to avoid a repeat of their first two meetings.
The fighters initially were content with feeling each other out, but as soon as the heat got turned up, Jackson's locked and cocked fist found a new home in Silva's mouth.
“The Axe Murderer” was very clearly knocked out hard by the first punch, and crumbled to the ground with his hands over his head. Jackson landed a few unnecessary shots after, and Silva remained on the mat for a good while.
This was easily one of the most devastating knockouts in UFC history and is one of the greatest displays of just how much power Jackson has in his hands.
July 11, 2009: Dan Henderson Decapitates Michael Bisping
The UFC immortalized Bisping's mouth getting broken by putting the fight up on YouTube!
I wondered whether I should include Jackson vs. Silva or Henderson vs. Bisping on this list. In taco commercial-style, I determined “why not have both?”
Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping was an amazing finish to an amazing night of fights at one of the UFC's most amazing events, UFC 100. Henderson, like Rampage Jackson, showed just how hard a human being is capable of hitting someone when he cold-cocked Michael Bisping.
Henderson's fearsome punching power had Bisping scared throughout the fight. A few minutes into the second round, Henderson stepped in, seemingly to send a jab to the body. Bisping tried to slip away, but was met by a fully-loaded right hand from Henderson that practically made him bite his own ear.
Henderson then channeled his inner Rock, and dove to the mat after him, and delivered an absolutely scary follow-up punch that kept “the Count” unconscious for minutes.
March 21, 2010: Jon Jones's Elbow Destroys Brandon Vera's Face
That one elbow from Jon Jones did a huge amount of damage.
It may not look like it, but the elbow that set up Jon Jones's knockout of Brandon Vera is one of the single most devastating strikes in MMA history. As such, it rightly deserves a spot on this list.
Jon Jones, at the time a hot prospect, was headlining his first card in the UFC. Jones made sure to assert his grappling superiority early, taking down Vera in the first few seconds and, outside a very brief escape, keeping him there for the entire fight. While Vera used his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt to keep his opponent from posturing, Jones eventually slipped away and delivered a perfect, wound-up elbow squarely to Vera's face.
Vera has been called many things over the course of his UFC career, but few would say he is “afraid to get hit," so when he immediately turtled and covered his face, it was obvious to most fans that he was seriously hurt.
To the surprise of nobody, it turned out that the strike literally broke Vera's face. Not only did it break Vera's face, but it broke his face in three places.
July 3, 2010: Gerald Harris Delivers UFC's Most Devastating Slam KO
Gerald Harris' brutal slam of Dave Branch is probably the best we've seen in the UFC. Photo c/o CagePotato.com.
When it comes to slam KOs, it was hard to choose just one. After all, smacking the entirety of a person onto the ground is pretty damn brutal.
Matt Hughes's slam of Carlos Newton is easily the most famous KO of this ilk, but it is not quite the most devastating. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson's slam of Ricardo Arona is always worth mentioning...unfortunately, it was not in the UFC. Whittling the list down, it has been determined the best choice is probably Gerald Harris's savage knockout of Dave Branch.
This bout is one of the few times where this writer actually thought, for a split second, “oh $@^*, that guy is dead."
While working for a submission, Branch was lifted off the ground by Harris. Harris ended up working his arm across Branch's collar bone, giving him an extra bit of control over his opponent's body. Using this, Harris put all the force of the slam entirely on Branch's upper-back and neck region.
Branch was knocked unconscious mightily, and stayed that way for quite a bit. Harris earned knockout of the night honors and was featured on the Sportscenter Top 10 the next day.
January 14, 2012: Edson Barboza's Spinning Kick KO of Terry Etim
Barboza's kick is easily the flashiest knockout in MMA history. Photo by Josh Hodges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images.
Our list is nearing its end, with this very recent knockout. That said, few will argue that this is one of the best in MMA history.
Barboza's spin-kick has been seen far and wide, making it onto the Sportscenter Top 10, and setting the MMA blogosphere ablaze. You probably still remember it. If you don't, the picture over there is pretty self-explanatory. Nevertheless, I have to fill up this slide some more...
Barboza has always been a kick-focused fighter, and threw loads of spin kicks in his first three UFC bouts. Since he never faced an especially scary wrestler, he was free to keep on throwing them, making it a matter of time before he landed one. Then came his fight against Terry Etim. The rest is history.
Etim stiffened hard. So hard, in fact, that his arms did not even touch the ground when he fell to the mat.
Though Barboza has since lost to Jamie Varner, he is still a premiere lightweight because of that one strike.
July 11, 2012: Chris Weidman Easily Dispatches Mark Munoz
Chris Weidman delivered a massive amount of punishment to Mark Munoz.
Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
Chris Weidman vs. Mark Munoz is one of the most shockingly one-sided bouts between supposedly top fighters that has come up in the last few years. Though everyone knew Weidman was a fast-rising young fighter, Mark Munoz was a wily veteran with seemingly comparable wrestling. The fight, it seemed, was a pick 'em.
Weidman took offense to this and completely dominated Munoz in the first round all across the cage. The second round came, and Weidman continued that trend. He took Munoz down, and shortly after they returned to their feet, landed a straight elbow directly to Munoz's face.
Weidman quickly grabbed hold of Munoz, causing him to land directly on his face. For whatever reason, the referee allowed the fight to continue, and Weidman proceeded to land (by this writer's count) 17 uncontested punches to Munoz's face.
The elbow on its own may not have done it, but the sheer amount of damage afterward leaves no question about how deserving this finish is of a spot here. This is a fitting way to close out this list of most devastating knockouts.